SummerWorks youth help industry leader stay ahead of the competition

 This morning, Mayor Fischer stopped by D.D. Williamson to visit their SummerWorks youth. From left to right: Jacob Keisling, Kimberly Jefferson, Mayor Fischer, Weslee Reynolds, and Maria Yeager. 

This morning, Mayor Fischer stopped by D.D. Williamson to visit their SummerWorks youth. From left to right: Jacob Keisling, Kimberly Jefferson, Mayor Fischer, Weslee Reynolds, and Maria Yeager. 

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SummerWorks youth may not have the work experience of seasoned industry pros, but their enthusiasm and talent make them valuable assets for employers. A perfect example is local manufacturing company D.D. Williamson, where four young people are working this summer. 

Founded in 1865, D.D. Williamson is a top producer of naturally-derived coloring for food and beverages worldwide. The company is headquartered in Louisville but has eight other manufacturing sites on five continents.

Christy Decker, the company's HR Manager for North America, admits that before they got involved in SummerWorks they weren't sure what to expect. 

We’re months ahead of where we’d be in manufacturing without our SummerWorks interns.
— Christy Decker, HR Manager for North America
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"Before we committed to SummerWorks, we had the perception that the young people might require a lot of hand holding," Decker says, "but the reality has been the total opposite. They learn very quickly and are much more efficient than we expected. If anything, we're the ones who had to scramble to find them higher-level work. It's just 5 weeks into the season, and they're working on projects we never thought we'd be able to assign to a summer intern." 

The SummerWorks youth are helping D.D. Williamson in many key areas, including IT, marketing, video editing, and data entry. Their contributions have helped improve production processes, update in-house training programs, and save their customer service representatives a lot of time. "We're months ahead of where we'd otherwise be because of their work," says Decker.

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We want our SummerWorks interns to come back down the line and say ‘that’s where I want to work’, because they know what we’re all about.
— Robert Perry, Manufacturing Director, Americas

SummerWorks also plays into the company's long-term planning. "We are hoping that, by introducing these young workers to this industry and our values as an organization, we are growing the pool of our future workforce," explains Robert Perry, who directs manufacturing for North and South America.

"We stay in touch with our interns after the season has ended because we view this as an investment in our future. We want our SummerWorks interns to come back down the line and say 'that's where I want to work', because they know what we're all about."

So what's D.D. Williamson's advice for other employers considering hiring through SummerWorks? For Christy Decker, it's simple: "Don't underestimate what these young people are capable of. Make sure you've got plenty of projects for them to dive into because they're capable of really contributing."

Click here to learn more about hiring through SummerWorks.